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May 29, 2017

Local Democracy on the Ballot

In this Essay, Joshua A. Douglas highlights how local voter-backed initiatives can play a significant role in dictating voting rights and election rules. The Essay provides courts with a test to employ when facing an inevitable judicial challenge to one of these local election law initiatives. Professor Douglas argues that courts should generally defer to local rules that expand the electorate or open up the political process to more people, but should not defer to local voting restrictions or rules that tend to aggrandize the majority’s control or lead to entrenchment. He concludes that local laws that enhance democratic participation by expanding the electorate or reducing campaign finance barriers to running for office epitomize the benefits of local democracy and deserve judicial deference.